Question

Explain the following: A toy balloon filled with hydrogen rises to the ceiling, but if filled with carbon dioxide sinks to the floor.

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Answer

When a light gas like hydrogen (density much less than that of air) is filled in a balloon, the weight of air displaced by the inflated balloon (i.e., upthrust) becomes more than weight of the gas filled and it rises up.

However, reverse happens when the balloon is filled with a heavier gas like carbon dioxide (i.e., the weight of air displaced by the inflated balloon (i.e., upthrust) becomes less than weight of the gas filled and hence, the balloon sinks to the bottom.)

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A weather forecasting plastic balloon of volume 15 m3 contains hydrogen of density 0.09 kg m-3. The volume of an equipment carried by the balloon is negligible compared to it’s own volume. The mass of the empty balloon alone is 7.15 kg. The balloon is floating in air of density 1.3 kg m-3. Calculate : (i) the mass of hydrogen in the balloon, (ii) the mass of hydrogen and balloon, (iii) the total mass of hydrogen, balloon and equipment if the mass of equipment is x kg, (iv) the mass of air displaced by balloon and (v) the mass of equipment using the law of floatation.

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